Runner kickstarts successful parkrun

Karl Cadman’s parkrun now plays host to more than 170 runners each weekend where there was nothing before

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Have you ever wondered how you could kickstart your own run? Or maybe you’ve wanted to introduce a parkrun into your area where there wasn’t before? This telling story may help…

Back in September 2013, Karl Cadman was presented with the idea of a local parkrun. His area, Hockley Essex, was one of many parts of the UK that still haven’t inaugurated a parkrun in to its Saturday regime.

Luckily, Cadman, who’s a Local Leader for a London 2012 legacy charity named Join in, had previous experience at race directing for Benfleet Running Club. This gave him a bit of a head start with the know how on the thought process behind the planning, and also the contacts and willing supporters for such an event.

For those that don’t know, parkrun organise free, weekly 5K times runs every Saturday, in what for most people is their local park. They are open to everyone, and are a great way for many beginner runners to experience a very soft racing vibe. Of course it can be used by those wanting to take it more seriously and practice their 5K times.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 12.29.03Cadman held several meetings and ideas sessions with willing volunteers from local clubs, and eventually a core team evolved. Being conscious of dog walking groups who also use the woods, as well as horse riders, walkers and cyclists. They knew they didn’t have sole use of the area, and with that they formulated a route and met with Woodlands and Open Spaces Supervisor Richard Bond, who could then approve the use of Hockley woods and decide on signs and marshal positions.

Setting up a page on the Join In website to arrant further volunteers, the idea of a new Hockley Woods park run was taking shape.

December saw the first proper Test Event in the woods, with 30 or so runners invited. With the seniors from parkrun HQ also happy, a date for the inaugural run was announced.

This was overseen by Rochford Chairman Councillor June Lumley, Portfolio Holder for the Community Councillor Jo McPherson and local councillors Cheryl Roe and Michael Hoy. 

Not sure what to expect, a whopping 221 attended the inaugural run.

Now thanks to Cadman and the volunteers the Hockley Woods parkrun takes place at 9am every Saturday, with parking and a post-run coffee in the Bull PH.

If you’re interested in setting up your own run, visit here for more info.

Here’s 60 seconds with Karl Cadman:

What made you start your own parkrun? 

Local parkruns were doing very well, but there wasn’t one in our area.

What do you gain from volunteering? 

Inspiring people to get active.

Did you help out anywhere else? 

I am race director for two of our club races and am a UKA Endurance Coach.

How did you use Join In to recruit volunteers? 

I set up a provisional webpage for the parkrun a few months before we went live and had quite a few responses.

How many volunteers are helping with your parkrun? 

We need eight marshals on the course and 10 people at the Finish Funnel.

How many runners come down? 

We average 170 runners each week.

Are you hoping to grow the event? Do you need more help? 

By its very nature, the event is organic, and last week’s marshal list was made up entirely of new volunteers from the parkrun community. We expect, as the weather improves, to increase our numbers significantly. What could be better than getting some exercise, for free, in the idyllic surroundings of Hockley Woods?

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